Diversifying Your Photography Business Part 1: Seasonality

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I think a key part of being financially successful in this business for most of us is ensuring we are doing money-making activities like shooting and selling a large part of the time.  While top shooters may be busy year-round with well-paying jobs, the majority of photographers certainly have time to shoot more, especially if they freed themselves up from the non-money-making parts of their business (like bookkeeping, admin, website development, some types of editing, etc.).  This is why we look at our business as having “multiple streams of income” – getting paid from different market segments.  There are several areas I thought about as we took on new parts of the business which all had to do with diversification:

Diversifying: Seasonality
I noticed early on how seasonal different parts of the photography business are. In New England, the wedding season is really May through October…our clients get married in the summer and book in the winter. As I started doing family portraits, most families were all about the holiday card and holiday gifts, so I have traditionally shot 90% of my family portraits from September thru November. And as I got more into commercial work, it seemed to be September – May…rarely in the summer.

When I was focusing primarily on weddings I’d work like crazy in those summer months, make all our money and try to make it stretch over the winter, supplemented by booking the next year’s weddings. The rest of the winter was spent updating our website, preparing our taxes, doing administrative work, and shooting the occasional random job. I realized that I wasn’t making money doing all those administrative things and I could probably outsource them for under $5K…so I hired a bookkeeper, a programmer and some part-time help to work on those things so that I can focus on getting and shooting more  commercial business.  Additionally, we have just taken on a studio to beef up our indoor shooting opportunities (executive portraits, seniors, families, etc.) during the winter.  My husband, Mike is also going to be shooting Bar Mitzvahs…the date is assigned year-round by the synagogue…not based on the weather!

There are a number of different areas to consider…we’re focusing on weddings, portraits and commercial…all people work, but look at all the photographers giving workshops in the winter…we’re certainly all qualified to teach a simple “how to use your camera” or “how to take better shots” workshop to amateurs (let’s hope!). Or can you be a “destination” wedding photographer in a different part of the country/world during the winter months?  Something to think about!

 

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